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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andrew Heaney confident he’ll bounce back after rough ’21

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LOS ANGELES — Andrew Heaney is eager to bounce back from a rough season. The Los Angeles Dodgers believe he can too, with some adjustments.

The free agent left-hander signed an $8.5 million, one-year deal this week that brings him back to Southern California, where he pitched for the Angels from 2015 until getting shipped to the New York Yankees at the July trade deadline.

He was a combined 8-9 with a 5.83 ERA last season. He fared worse in New York, where he was 2-2 with a 7.32 ERA in 12 games, including five starts, after the swap.

“I didn’t turn it around, and that’s something I wish maybe hadn’t gone the way that it did,” he said Friday in a video interview. “There’s some things I probably left on the table there.”

The Dodgers are gambling that Heaney will improve in 2022 based on numbers other than his record and ERA. He recorded 150 strikeouts and 41 walks in 129 2/3 innings. They rewarded him with a bigger salary than the $6.75 million he made last season. He can earn an extra $1 million in performance bonuses: $250,000 each for 100, 125, 150 and 175 innings.

“I know that I’m much better than my numbers say I was last year,” he said.

Heaney’s situation has drawn comparisons to Toronto’s Robbie Ray, who turned his career around and performed at a high enough level to be the favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award.

“I’m not sitting here predicting I’m going to go win the Cy Young next year, but I do think there were teams that look not only at pitchers’ stuff, but also underlying metrics,” Heaney said. “I’m fully admitting the year I had last year is not what I wanted to have. There are some things I could do a lot better and probably some really small things that are going to make big differences.”

Heaney heads into the offseason with a new team for the first time in several years. He flew to Los Angeles to talk with manager Dave Roberts and pitching coach Mike Prior among others about specific changes he needs to make.

Joking that he didn’t want to put “proprietary information on the streets,” Heaney said they discussed “little minor things that had never crossed my mind or been brought to my attention.”

“Couple things mechanically, minor tweaks with a few of my pitches, some things I could do better,” he said. “I don’t think it’s one major thing, it’s just a culmination of a lot of little things.”

Coming off the disappointing season, Heaney said he was eager to sign with a team early and have a full offseason to implement changes. He refused an outright minor league assignment from the Yankees on Oct. 7 and became a free agent.

“That allowed us to start talking to teams before the World Series was over,” he said. “That’s why things happened so quickly.”

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Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly bringing back Yoshi Tsutsugo on 1-year deal

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PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates are bringing back first baseman/outfielder Yoshi Tsutsugo on a one-year deal, $4 million deal, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

The deal is pending a physical.

Tsutsugo, 29, joined the Pirates in August after being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played well over the final six weeks of the season, hitting .268 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 43 games while splitting time between first base, left field and right field.

Pittsburgh has a pressing need for a right fielder heading into 2022, though Tsutsugo is limited defensively and had trouble at times adjusting to the 21-foot high Clemente Wall at PNC Park.

Still, the left-handed power he flashed during 144 plate appearances would be welcome over a full 162-game slate for a team that finished last in the majors in home runs by a wide margin.

The well-traveled Tsutsugo was a star in his native Japan, where he hit 205 home runs over the course of a decade before signing with Tampa Bay in December 2019. He hit just .217 over parts of two seasons with the Rays before being traded to the Dodgers in May.

Tsutsugo played 12 games for Los Angeles and was released in August after batting .120. The Pirates, who are in the midst of a top-to-bottom rebuild, scooped him up, and he made an immediate impact. Tsutsugo doubled in his first at-bat with Pittsburgh, collected at least one hit in four of his first five games and proved capable of handling first base.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported the agreement Wednesday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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With attack on Matz’s agent, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen keeps getting in his own way

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It must’ve felt good for Mets owner Steve Cohen to punch send on his angry tweet Wednesday morning, his vitriol and endorphins and frustration released by directing his social media ire (and his more-than-200,000 followers) toward little-known agent Rob Martin. Cohen referred to Martin’s actions in the Steven Matz negotiation as “unprofessional” and all but called him a liar.

What Cohen doesn’t seem to understand, or care to acknowledge, is that every time he publicly gripes about agents, his offense, or the fans, he is denting the franchise that cost him $2.475 billion. Tweet by tweet, he is feeding the perception among rival executives and agents, and, most importantly, among players, that the Mets have somehow become more dysfunctional under Cohen than they were under the Wilpon family, the previous ownership group — and that is an extraordinarily high bar. He is feeding the perception that the Mets are evolving into their own Big Apple Circus, with the owner looming as a threat to attack everything from agents to slumping hitters.

With each social media post, Cohen probably makes it a little more difficult for the franchise to realize his stated goal of winning the World Series in the next two to four years. In a sport in which players must be courted, and building organizational success and an enduring major league roster can take years, perception does matter. When you talk with rival officials — including some who’ve had opportunities to talk to the Mets about employment — the simple truth is that Cohen’s ownership habits are viewed as an unwanted wild card.



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Kansas City Royals reliever Wade Davis announces retirement

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Reliever Wade Davis, a three-time All-Star selection who has 141 saves in 12 major league seasons, is retiring, the Kansas City Royals announced Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Davis, who led the National League with 43 saves in 2018, clinched the World Series title for the Royals in 2015 with a game-ending strikeout against the New York Mets.

The Royals acquired Davis from Tampa Bay in December 2012, converted him to a full-time reliever in 2013 — he had 47 saves over four seasons with Kansas City — and then traded him to the Chicago Cubs after the 2016 season.

He spent one season in Chicago, completing a four-year, $12.6 million contract with three options that wound up totaling $35.1 million in salary. He then signed a three-year, $52 million contract with the Colorado Rockies.

Davis returned to the Royals in 2021, going 0-3 with 2 saves in 40 appearances.

In 557 career games, including 88 starts, Davis had a 3.94 ERA with 929 strikeouts.



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